By Duncan Johnstone
Alexander Dimitrenko has accused Joseph Parker of looking past him, though the Kiwi heavyweight says he's been cutting out social and mainstream media to avoid the world title talk distracting him from beating the giant Russian.
Parker fights Dimitrenko in Manukau on Saturday night, a risky bout set against an intriguing backdrop that has increasing speculation of his mandatory rights to fight IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua being called into action, perhaps as early as November 26.
Parker insists his focus is totally on Dimitrenko though the Russian felt he was "going under the radar" of the 24-year-old Kiwi - which would be a danger.
Dimitrenko suggested he was in an advantaged position given the circumstances that have developed since he arrived in New Zealand two weeks ago with as much Parker talk coming out of London as Auckland.
"I'm going under the radar a little bit. He's already looking past me and concentrating on Anthony Joshua," Dimitrenko said. "That could be a bad joke if he doesn't concentrate on the fight.
"It's best to look at my feet rather than behind my back. I've had that experience before and looked into the future and I won't make that mistake again.
"Joseph is a young fighter and he doesn't have that experience yet," added Dimitrenko, a 34-year-old veteran of 40 fights with just two losses.
Parker brushed off those claims. The realisation that his mandatory position with the IBF would disappear if he lost to Dimitrenko had increased his focus.
"I've put everything into this fight - all my thoughts, my feelings, everything," Parker insisted.
"I've just been listening to what mum and dad have been saying and also my team ... we have to get past this fight [first]. I've just been focussing on my opponent rather than thinking about the future."
That included putting himself on an internet diet. An avid user of various forms of social media, Parker has cut down during his week and a half in Auckland to avoid the speculation of being pushed early into a clash with Joshua, or, at the very least, appearing, on the undercard in Manchester.
"I've hardly been on social media which is good ... and keeping away from news and things about what we are trying to do," Parker said oif precautions he had taken.
"In Vegas I'm on social media a lot more. Usually in New Zealand I'd put up one post a day on Instagram. I've only posted once since I've been here."
Parker's trainer Kevin Barry said while the stakes were incredibly high, this wasn't a new position of pressure for Parker and he backed his fighter to cope with what was swirling around him.
"We have been in a situation quite a few times where we have had to fight and we've already had someone else signed," Barry explained.
"Joe has gone through this exercise. We know as a team and Joe understands ... I have given him examples of guys looking past the guy in front of them. When you start conducting your business in the future you know your performance is going to suffer.
"So our focus has only been on one guy and that's Alexander Dimitrenko."
There were no fireworks when the two fighters fronted an Auckland media session on Wednesday. Hugs and handshakes were on display rather than any animosity hanging over from last week when when Parker accused Dimitrenko of being disrespectful for saying Parker had lost to Carlos Takam in their IBF eliminator rather than getting the unanimous points decision from the judges.
Parker reiterated his view in a general greeting but didn't take it any further.
"We shook hands, he has his opinion about things and I have mine. It's a new day, we saw each other, shook hands and we're ready to fight," Parker said.